Sep
08
Christopher Hitchens | Talks at Google


>>Hi, everyone. Welcome to today’s Authors
at Google event. After the talk, we’re going to have a Q and A session, and I’d like
to remind everyone to please use the microphone in the middle of the room, if you have questions.
It’s my pleasure to introduce Christopher Hitchens. Mr. Hitchens was born in England,
and educated at Oxford. In 1981, he migrated to the US, and recently, became a US citizen.
He’s the author of a number of notable books including “Why Orwell Matters” and “Letters
to a Young Contrarian.” As one of our most notable public intellectuals, he has been
a columnist at “Vanity Fair”, “The Atlantic,” “The Nation,” “Slate” and “Free
Inquiry,” and taught at the New School, UC Berkeley, and the University of Pittsburgh.
In his new book, “God Is Not Great,” he lines up the case against religion which he
spent a lifetime developing with anger, humor and a formidable style of argument that defines
all of Mr. Hitchens’s work. About the book, Michael Kinsley wrote in the New York Times,
“Hitchens has outfoxed the Hitchens watchers by writing a serious and deeply-thought book,
totally consistent with his beliefs of the lifetime. And God should be flattered; unlike
most of those clamoring for his attention, Hitchens treats him like an adult. Ever contrarian,
and always eloquent, he’s here today to discuss the book, take your questions, and
take on anyone who dares to challenge him to a debate. He’ll be signing books afterwards.
And, with that, please join me in welcoming Christopher Hitchens to Google.
>>HITCHENS: Thank you, darling. Sweet. Well, thank you so much for that suspiciously grudging
introduction. And thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for coming. I understand we’ve
only got the balance of an hour together so, I’ll try and break the rule of a lifetime
and be terse. I think I’ll put it like this. It’s true that publishers sometimes want
to put a catchy or suggestive or challenging title, subtitle on a book. And so, when we
hit upon or they hit upon, well, how religion poisons and why religion poisons everything,
I knew what would happen, people would come up to me, they’d say, you mean absolutely
everything, you mean the whole thing? They’d take me literally. I thought, well, all right.
One of the things you have to do in life as an author is live up to your damn subtitle.
So, today, I’d defend the subtitle because I think the title probably, when it came to
me in the shower, I realized, it pretty much does speak for itself. Unlike that sign outside
Little Rock airport, huge–we had a black sign that you see from the airport that says,
just “Jesus,” a word I have used myself, and a name I know but putting it like that seems
to say both too much and too little, you know what I mean? Well, here’s how religion has
this effect, in my opinion: It is derived from the childhood of our species, from the
bawling, fearful period of infancy. It comes from the time when we did not know that we
lived on an orb. We thought we lived on a disc. And we did not know that we went around
the sun or that the sky was not a dome, when we didn’t know that there was a germ theory
to explain disease, and innumerable theories for the explanation of things like famine.
It comes from a time when we had no good answers, but because we are pattern-seeking animals,
a good thing about us, and because we will prefer even a conspiracy theory or junk theory
to no theory at all, a bad thing about us. This is and was our first attempt of philosophy,
just as in some ways, it was our first attempt at science, and it was all founded on and
remains founded on a complete misapprehension about the origins, first of the universe,
and, second, about human nature. We now know a great deal about the origins of the universe,
and a great deal about our own nature. I just had my DNA sequenced by National Geographic.
You should all by the way get this done. It’s incredibly important to find out how racism
and creationism would be abolished by this extraordinary scientific breakthrough, how
you can find out your kinship with all your fellow creatures originating in Africa; but
also, your kinship with other forms of life including not just animal but plant, and you
get an idea of how you are part of nature, and how that’s wonderful enough. And we
know from Stephen Hawking and from any others, Steven Weinberg and many other great physicists,
an enormous amount now about what Professor Weinberg’s brilliant book calls The First
Three Minutes, the concept of the Big Bang. And we can be assured as we could probably
need be that neither this enormous explosion that set the universe in motion, which is
still moving away from us in a great rate nor this amazingly complex billion dollar–billion
year period of evolution–we can be pretty certain it was not designed so that you and
I could be meeting in this room. We are not the objects of either of these plans. These
plans don’t know we’re here. I’m sorry to say, wouldn’t know or care if we stopped
being here. We have to face this alone with the equipment, intellectual and moral, that
we’ve been given, or that we’ve acquired or that is innate to us. And here’s another
way in which religion poisons matters. It begins by saying, well, why don’t we lie to
ourselves instead, why don’t we pretend that we’re not going to die, or that an
exception to be made at least in our own case if we make the right propitiations or the
right moves. Why do we not pretend that the things like modern diseases which we can sequence
now, sequence the genes of, like AIDS, are the punishment for wickedness and fornication?
Why don’t we keep fooling ourselves that there is a divine superintendent of all this because
it would abolish the feeling of loneliness and possibly even irrelevance that we might
otherwise–in other words, why don’t we surrender to wish thinking? That poisons everything,
in my opinion. Right away, it attacks the very basic integrity that we need to conduct
the scrupulous inquiries, investigations, experiments, interrogations of evidence that
we need to survive, and to prosper and to grow. And it’s no coincidence, no accident
that almost every scientific advance has been made in the teeth of religious opposition
of one form or another that says we shouldn’t be tampering with God’s design. I suppose
the most recent and most dangerous one of these is the attempt to limit stem cell research.
But everyone could probably think of all other forms of scientific research and inquiry,
especially medical that had led to religious persecution, in reprisal. Thirdly, it’s
an attack, I think, on what’s also very important to us, our innate morality. If there’s
one point that I get made more than another to me when I go and debate religious people,
it’s this: They say, where would your morals come from if there was no God? It’s actually–it’s
a question that’s posed in Dostoyevsky’s wonderful novel, The Brothers Karamazov, one
of the brothers says–Snelyakov, actually, the wicked one, says it. If God is dead, isn’t
everything permitted, isn’t everything permissible? Where would our ethics be if there was no
superintending duty? This, again, seems to me a very profound insult to us in our very
deepest nature and character. It is not the case, I submit to you, that we do not set
about butchering and raping and thieving from each other right now only because we’re
afraid of a divine punishment or because we’re looking for a divine reward. It’s an extraordinarily
base and insulting thing to say to people. On my mother’s side, some of my ancestry
is Jewish. I don’t happen to believe the story of Moses and Egypt or the exile or the
wandering and the Sinai. And in fact, now even Israeli archaeology has shown that there
isn’t a word of truth to that story or really any of the others; but take it to be true.
Am I expected to believe my mother’s ancestors got all the way to Mount Sinai, quite a trek,
under the impression until they got there that rape, murder, perjury, and theft were
okay, only to be told when they got to the foot of Mount Sinai, bad news, none of these
things are kosher at all. They’re all forbidden. I don’t think so. I think, I think we can–actually,
I have a better explanation ever since–superior as well as better–that no one would have
been able to get as far as Mount Sinai or any other mountain or in any other direction
unless they had known that human solidarity demands that we look upon each other as brothers
and sisters, and that we forbid activities such as murder, rape, perjury, and theft.
This is innate in us. If those activities are not innate, the sociopaths who don’t understand
the needs of anyone but themselves and the psychopaths who positively take pleasure in
breaking these rules, well, all we can say is, according to one theory, they are also
made in the image of God which makes the image of God question rather problematic, does it
not or that they can be explained by a further and better research and have to be restrained
and disciplined meanwhile, but in no sense here is religion a help where it came to help
most which is to our morality, to our ethics. Finally, I would say–not finally because
I’m finished here, I’m not quite done. Don’t relax. Everyone has got to drink, something
to eat, but on the poison question, I think there’s the real temptation of something
very poisonous to human society and human relations which is the fear of freedom, the
wish to be slaves, the wish to be told what to do. Now, just as we all like to think and
we live under written documents and proclamations that encourage us to think that it is our
birth right and our most precious need to be free, to be liberated, to be untrammeled.
So we also knew that unfortunately the innate in people is the servile, is the wish to be
told what to do, is the adoration for strong and brutal and cruel leaders, that this other
baser element of the human makeup has to be accounted for and it gives us a great deal
of trouble around the world as we speak. Religion, in my view, is a reification, a distillation
of this wish to be a serf, to be a slave. Ask yourself if you really wish it was true
that there was a celestial dictatorship that watched over you from the moment you were
born, actually the moment you were conceived, all through life, night and day, knew your
thoughts, waking and sleeping, could in fact convict you of thought crime, the absolute–the
absolute definition of a dictatorship, can convict you for what you think or what you
privately want, what you’re talking about to yourself, that admonishes you like this
under permanent surveillance, control and supervision and doesn’t even let go of you
when you’re dead because that’s when the real fun begins. Now, my question is this–my
question is this, who wishes that that were true? Who wants to live the life of a serf
in a celestial North Korea? I’ve been to North Korea. I’m one of the very few writers
who has. I’m indeed the only writer who’s been to all three axis of evil countries,
Iran, Iraq and North Korea. And I can tell you North Korea is the most religious state
I’ve ever been to. I used to wonder when I was a kid, what would it be like praising
God and thanking him all day and all night? Well, now I know because North Korea is a
completely worshipful state. It’s set up only to do that, for adoration and it’s only
one short of a trinity. They have a father and the son, as you know, the Dear Leader
and the Great Leader. The father is still the president of the country. He’s been
dead for 15 years, but Kim Jong-il, the little one, is only the head of the party and the
Army. His father is still the president, head of the state. So you have in North Korea what
you might call a necrocracy or what I also–I called them mausolocracy, thanatocracy. One–just
one short of a trinity; father, son, maybe no holy ghost, but they do say that when the
birth of the younger one took place, the birds of Korea sang in Korean to mark the occasion.
This I’ve checked. It did not happen. Take my word for it. It didn’t occur and I suppose
I should add they don’t threaten to follow you after you’re dead. You can leave North
Korea. You can get out of their hell and their paradise by dying. To the Christian and Muslim
one, you cannot. This is the wish to be a slave. And in my point of view, it’s poisonous
of human relations. Now, I’ve really babbled for nearly twenty minutes. I’ll be quick.
It is argued, well, some religious people have done great things and have been motivated
to do so by their faith; the most cited case in point I have found is that of Dr. Martin
Luther King, who I know I don’t need to explain to you about. Two quick things on
that: First, he was it’s true a minister. He did preach the Book of Exodus, the exile
of an enslaved and oppressed people as his metaphor. But if he really meant it, he would
have said that the oppressed people, as the Book of Exodus finds them doing, were entitled
to kill anyone who stood on their way and take their land and their property, enslave
their women or kill their children, and commit genocide, rape, ethnic cleansing and forcible
theft of land. That’s what Exodus described as happening–the full destruction of the
tribes. It’s very fortunate that Dr. King only the meant the Bible at the most to be
used as a metaphor and after all he was using the only book that he could be sure his audience
has ever already read. That’s the first thing. The second is, during his lifetime,
he was attacked all the time for having too many secular and leftist non-believing friends,
the people like famous black secularists like Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph. These are
the men that did organize the march on Washington; which leads me to my third observation which
is this: It’s a challenge I made now in debates with rabbis, with priests of all Christian
stripes, with imams. Once–I know this sounds like an opening of a joke about some bar,
but once also with a Buddhist nun in Miami. I asked them all. Here is my–here is my challenge.
You have to name me an ethical statement that was made or a moral action that was performed
by a religious person in the name of faith that could not have been made as an action
or uttered as a statement by non–a person not of faith, a person of no faith. You have
to do that. Not so far and I’ve dealt at quite a high level with the religious, no
takers. No one has been able to find me that. That being the case, we’re entitled to say,
I think, that religious faith serve as the requirements whereas if I was to ask anyone
in this room, think of a wicked thing said or an evil thing done by a person of faith
in the name of faith, no one would have a second of hesitation in thinking of one, would
they? It’s interesting to realize how true that is and how much true it’s getting. Does
anyone ever listen to Dennis Prager’s Show? He’s a slightly loopy Christian broadcaster,
religious broadcaster, I should say. He’s more Jewish than Christian–Judaic-Christian
broadcaster who quite often rather generously has me on the show. And he asked me a question
the other day; he had a challenge of his own. He said, “You are to imagine that you’re
in a town late at night where you have never been before, and you have no friends and it’s
getting dark. And through the darkness, you see coming towards you a group of men, let’s
say ten. Do you feel better or worse if you know that they’re just coming from a prayer
meeting?” This is Mr. Prager’s question to me. I said, “Well, Mr. Prager, without
leaving you, from just without quitting the letter B, I can tell you I’ve had that experience
in Belfast, in Beirut, in Baghdad, in Bombay, in Bosnia, and in Bethlehem. And if you see
anyone coming from a religious gathering, in any of those places, you know exactly how
fast you need to run. And no one has to explain to you why and I haven’t had to waste any
time telling you, have I, ladies and gentlemen? So I submit to you that it is those who are
people of faith who have the explaining to do, who have the justifying to do if this
is indeed the case. If they can’t account for anything about the origin of our cosmos
or our species, if they say that without them, we’d be without morals and make us seem
as if we are merely animals without faith, if further, everybody can name an instance
where religion has made people actually behave worse to one another and act as a retardant
upon the advances of knowledge and science and information, I submit that the case to
be made is theirs rather than mine. We have a better tradition. We’re not just arid
secularists and materialists, we on the atheist side. We can point, through the Hubble telescope,
the fantastic, awe-inspiring majestic pictures that are being taken now of the outer limits
of our universe, and who’s going to turn away from those pictures and start gaping
again at the burning bush? We have smaller microscopes that can examine for us the miracles
of the interior of the double helix and the sheer beauty of that. The natural world is
wonderful enough, more wonderful than anything conjured by the fools who believe in astrology
or the supernatural. And we have a better tradition politically against the popes and
the imams and the witch doctors and the divine right of kings and the whole long tradition
of civic repression combined with religion that’s known as theocracy. We have created
in the United States, the only country in the history of the world, written on founding
documents testable, organized, works in progress based on the theory of human liberation and
the only constitution in the history of world that says that there shall be a separation
between the church and the state. God is never mentioned in the United States Constitution
except in order to limit religion and keep it out of politics and put it under legal
control. This achievement was described by President Jefferson whose biographer, I am
in a small way, to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut in a letter after they reasoned
him for fear of persecution. By the way, who do you think Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut
were afraid of being persecuted by? Anyone knows?
MALE: The Methodists? HITCHENS: No, the Congregationalists of Danbury,
Connecticut. People forget what it used to be like, see how the Christians loved each
other, how they tried to repeat the European passion of one religious sect repressing and
torturing another one. And as you probably know, the president wrote back and saud, “No,
you may be assured that there will ever be in this country a wall of separation between
the church and the state.” So I have a new slogan and I’m taking it on tour and I invite
you to join me in it and it goes like this, “Mr. Jefferson, build up that wall.” Okay,
thank you very much for coming. And I’m all yours. And that was 25 minutes;
I hope that’s fair. And I’ll point out the questions if you like because I don’t
think anyone thinks that I’ve planted my immediate family in this hole, but, Carol,
stay out of it. Bring it on.>> Thank you for coming to Google.
>>HITCHENS: It’s my honor.>>So you make it sound really, really simple.
I mean you have explanations for everything.>>HITCHENS: Yeah.
>>And I agree with a lot of your arguments and, you know, I lived in, like, a socialist
country. I mean, I come from Croatia so I, you know, I empathize with a little bit of
when you say like the axis of evil and especially North Korea being a perfect theocracy, I can
relate to that. But I don’t understand why do you say that these people really want to
be enslaved, if you could explain this to me. I mean, I think there’s really a system,
you know, like set up by a minority which is really a brutal system and I don’t understand
about the part, like, you know, like this is something that these people want so…
>>HITCHENS: Did you say you were Croatian?>>Yes, yes.
>>HITCHENS: Yeah. Well, then you–then I would be upset if you thought I meant that
these man-made regimes were there because people wanted them to be, no. That’s not
what I meant at all about North Korea. Particularly, these have been riveted onto…
>>Yes.>>HITCHENS: …people. I mean, North Korea
is a hermetic place unfortunately in that it has ocean on either side of it; the Demilitarized
Zone which is several miles wide on the south and Russia and China on the north. So, you
have a place where you can horribly conduct an experiment on human beings, essentially.
You can isolate them totally. The North Korean State was set up in the same year that Orwell
published 1984. And you almost think that somebody gave Kim Il-sung a copy of 1984 in
Korean and said, “Do you think we could make this fly?” And he said, “Well, I
can’t be sure. We sure can give it the old college try.” Because that’s how it feels
there. I went there, I thought, I’ve had his experience–I’ll just digress for a second.
I’ve had this experience twice in my life. Journalists hate cliché. I know it doesn’t
always seem like that when you read the papers, but we try and avoid them. I went to Prague
once under the old days of the communist regime. I thought whatever happens to me here, I’m
not going to mention Franz Kafka in my essay. I’m going to be the first journalist not
to do it. I went to a meeting of the opposition underground, somebody betrayed us because
the secret police came in and, suddenly, wham like just broke down the door, dogs, torches,
rubber truncheons. They slammed me against the wall, you’re under arrest. Well, I demand
to see the British ambassador. Blah, blah, you’re under arrest. What’s the charge?
We don’t have to tell you that. I thought, fuck, I’ve got to mention Kafka after all.
They make you do it. Well, I–that’s actually what a cliché is. That’s–communism is
a cliché in itself. The same in North Korea; I thought I don’t want to mention Orwell;
I don’t want to mention Orwell; have not have to mention. There’s no–there’s no other
stand of comparison. No, what I meant about the fear of freedom was this: Many, many people
don’t of course want to live under a hellish starvation regime of gulag type, like that.
But they, they quite like being told what to do. They don’t want to be told that life
doesn’t–the world doesn’t owe them a living and that they’re on their own and
they–they quite like it and repeatedly vote for parties and, sometimes, leaders who promise
to provide everything as long as they’ll give up just a little bit of freedom, just a little
bit. In the tradeoff, you’ll get more security and more welfare. It’s a temptation. In
some cases, it takes an extreme form, and I’m very impressed by how often when I debate
with the religious people, they will tell me that they’ve–they gravitate towards
faith because they want someone to, if you like, to look after them. The whole idea of
a heavenly father, for example, is built up on this. The–the old joke says some say God
is dead, some say God is dad, you figure. Then there are people who–well, Islam for
example, the word means, the word Islam means surrender, prostration. You give everything
to God. Everything is in his hands. This is implicit in the Qur’an. That’s what I mean.
But I think what’s innate in most people is the feeling that they quite like someone
to take care of them all of the time so it can be hard to argue with them that there
is no such person.>>I understand better now but…
>>HITCHENS: Okay.>>You see, I–just to follow up a little
bit. So is there a possibility there to say that then some people are more freedom-loving
than others and is this some sort of, you know, like–I wouldn’t call it racism but,
you know, like, differentiating people by their love towards freedom and all that?
>>HITCHENS: No, I’m certain that the same feelings are innate in all people. And one
day, there will be a North Korean edition of 1984, and it will be a huge bestseller
there.>>Uh-huh.
>>HITCHENS: I am as sure of that as I can be of anything. Though, at the moment, it’s
hard to imagine there’s anyone in North Korea who’s even allowed to consider the concept
of political liberty. It will come because it is innate. I have no doubt about that.
>>To follow up to on this fear of freedom and this is an innate idea, sorry to beat
that horse, but what do you–what do you think would possibly replace this? I also think
that there are some–I mean it’s obviously much easier to say my life is out of my control
and these events are out of my control so, you know, I’m going to thank God for the
good things and, you know, hate the devil for the bad things, whatever. So, like, you
know, from Plato to Nietsche to Socrates–or Descartes have said it’s difficult to choose
the life where you’re actually deciding and making choices for yourself and taking responsibility
and appreciating the fact that the world doesn’t care about your existence and then doing what
you need to do with that, and it is difficult. How do we, you know, well–how could we possibly
imagine a world where everybody buys into that idea and how do we–where would we go
like, where would that structure that some people feel they can’t do without, where
would they get that from? I guess what would–what would religion be replaced by so to fulfill
this natural need?>>HITCHENS: Yeah. Well, I would say that
emancipating ourselves from religion and from the combined sort of solipsism and masochism,
this is what I was trying to say to the comrade here a moment ago. Religion says to you, remember,
the monotheistic ones, you’re a miserable sinner, your sin is original, you can’t escape
it, you’re born as a wretch, you’re made out of dust or according to the Qur’an, a
clot of blood, you’re a worm, you’re nothing, you know, but a piece of gunk basically. But–and
you got to work really hard to get away from the terrible punishment that awaits you for
that. So total abnegation, but there’s also good news. The universe is designed with you
in mind, and God has a plan for you personally. So just when the person thinks they can’t
take anymore abuse–it’s like being inducted into a cult. Just where the person thinks
they can’t take anymore humiliation, they’re told, oh, but father loves you and he wants
you to join our group. That’s not good for people. You’d be better off without it.
So would everyone you know, so it’s not a matter of what we would put in its place,
we wouldn’t. We’d be emancipated from that kind of sadomasochism. That’s a good
thing to start off with. Second, we have the wonders and beauty of science to study. We
have instead of ancient texts that are full of lies and myths, we have increasingly a
wonderful world literature that’s available to anybody who can read even a little–most
recently, I would cite you, because yesterday was the birthday of India, happy birthday
by the way to all Indians here. And Pakistanis, though if you insist, I think the partition
was a huge mistake. There’s a–and religious partition is the worst kind, and it’s going
to lead one day to a thermonuclear war so–I didn’t have time to go into that but maybe
someone will ask me. There’s incredible literature in English written by Indians. It’s sort
of a sub-branch–but I shouldn’t even say sub; I mean a branch–a new branch of English
writing by Indians in English. It’s becoming a great part of world literature. There’s
all this extraordinary excitement. And people say no, no, no, you should–as Thomas Aquinas
said, a man of one book, you know, you should be reading a bible, you don’t really need
anything else, they’re destroying libraries in the Muslim world that could have any books
that contradict the Qur’an, this is no way to live. But having said all that, and said
what the–and the consolations of philosophy too which aren’t that hard to study are
very rewarding. And ethical and moral dilemmas that you get out of the study of literature,
George Eliot, Dostoyevsky, people of that kind, James Joyce. Still, it’s only a necessary
condition, not a sufficient one. There are no guarantees and an atheist can be a nihilist,
or a sadist, or a Stalinist, or a fascist, it’d be unlikely the last one but that’s
possible. Okay. But we–there are no guarantees and in part that it’s the recognition of
that, that’s the beginning of wisdom as well as I think the beginning of liberty.
>>One short and one longer one, I just want to be sure, I assume that you have read the
“Captain Stormfield’s Journey To Heaven” by Mark Twain.
>>HITCHENS: Sorry. Yes, I’ve read a lot of Mr. Clemens on religion.
>>Yes. That seemed a sort of a definitive work on the hierarchy structure of a more
standard religion.>>HITCHENS: Yes. By the way, you can’t read
too much Twain, ladies and gentlemen, on the subject. But now all of his stuff is available.
There are websites on Mark Twain and religion. It used to be really hard to get his writings
on religion even 10 years ago. Sorry.>>And my longer question which hopefully
won’t choke you up. Actually, I have several friends who are very well-educated, in some
cases in the sciences, who became religious late in life. They have been atheist or agnostic,
and then just decided they were feeling something and became religious. Do you have anything
to say on that sort of grounds or why that might be occurring?
>>HITCHENS: Yes. I suppose I could speculate, but that’s all I would be doing.
>>Of course.>>HITCHENS: I think for some people, the
Hubble View, say, does have the opposite effect from the one it has on me. It makes people
feel, well, then, whoever designed this must be even more amazing than I thought. And that’s–there
are attempts made by creationists now to say that. Instead of saying, “No, Darwin was wrong.
God made all this stuff.” They now say, “Well, okay, there was evolution, but God did that,
too.” So as you may know arguments that explain everything, explain nothing. That’s a definite
principle I think of underlying full cognition. If they can bend their argument so it can
comprehend everything, comprise everything then it isn’t an argument. But I think that
we are certainly made in such a way to be worshipfully inclined, shall we say. That
tendency is certainly within us. And when people think that there’s something awe inspiring,
what they feel is awe. And then what they feel is well, maybe there’s some majesty I
should be acknowledging here, though that isn’t at all a logical step. By the way, do
you know about “awe?”>>In what sense?
>>HITCHENS: John Wayne played the Roman centurion in one of the films about the crucifixion?
>>I don’t…>>HITCHENS: And there’s a certain point the
rain has to come down hard, and there’s thunder and lightning and the veil of the temple splits
and so on. And John Wayne standing as a centurion is supposed to say, “Truly, this was the son
of God.” So he does this. I forget who the director was–I think it’s Houston. And
cue rain, thunder and lightning, so Wayne stands there stoically, and utters, “Truly,
this was the son of God.” And the director’s, “John, that was great. That was terrific.
I just wonder if we could have it with a little more awe.” So they cued again the rain, thunder,
the veil of the temple splits into Wayne, earthquakes, you know. It’s all happening
and Wayne says, “Aw, truly, this was the son of God.”
>>So this is a kind of a follow-up on Tom’s question. I have a buddy who styles himself
as a kind of an allegorical pagan. And he’s had a lot of angry criticisms of religion,
many of which echo yours. But at the same time he feels in himself a kind of a biological
need to be part of a circle of believers in a community which he feels helps his rather
fragile emotional demeanor. He goes through, you know, depression and things like that,
and he finds that belief. So what he’d done is try to find what he feels as the least
obnoxious religion he could find and then not take it too seriously. What would you
say to such a person?>>HITCHENS: Well, that used to be called
the Church of England–or, the Unitarians, about whom Bertrand Russell said, “The great
thing about them is they believe in one god maximum.” Peter DeVries is very good on this.
He says people used to be a pagan and polytheist and believe in multiple gods, and then they
started believing in one god and they’re going nearer the true figure all the time. This
is progress.>>On an article, I believe it was that I
read, you seemed reluctant to endorse if not critical of Richard Dawkins’s attempt to sort
of organize the atheists under the title of Brights.
>>HITCHENS: Yes.>>And I believe that your comment was that
we infidels need no such machinery of reinforcement. My question is, if like-minded people do not
organize, especially if those whose ideals we oppose are more organized, how can we attempt
to–kind of steer our society the way that we would like it to go?
>>HITCHENS: Well, I was to have said this to the previous question. I mean, I’m in
some ways the wrong person to ask these questions. I’m no longer a joiner up of groups. I don’t
feel the belonging need anymore. I used to when I was younger and more left than I am
now feel that the need to be involved in an organized way. Now I don’t, and I think
I probably have more influence as an individual than I ever did as a cogwheel in a so-called
party. A point for anyone to ponder actually who was asked have they ever considered registering
independent, for example. People may fight harder for your vote if you don’t give it
away in advance. Separate question, and it’s very important to me that I don’t belong
to a church. People who believe as I believe don’t need to get together all the time
and remind ourselves what we believe, reinforce it, ram it home in case we forget the incredible
propositions that, you know, we’re singing and all those kind of things. You just recognize
a fellow free-thinker when you meet one. That should be enough. And in any country or any
language as well. There will be in Washington in October the big gathering where Richard
Dawkins and Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris, [INDISTINCT] and myself and many others are
going to be–Victor Stinger. Because there has been an extraordinary vogue of successful
books on this subject now, and I think there’s a change in the Zeitgeist going on about religion.
And let me just say this, if that Zeitgeist has been brought about, the change has been
brought about in that Zeitgeist, it hasn’t been by any organization. It’s by a group
of like-minded people writing their hearts out and refusing to be intimidated by religious
bullying. Or, to allow religious nonsense to be taught in the schools, for example,
in place of science. Or to allow euphemisms to be spread about the behavior of the parties
of god in Iraq or elsewhere. That’s what created it, not an organization but what you
might call an intellectual tendency. I think that’s fine. I think it’s encouraging.
>>Hi. A few of the things that you said don’t really seem consistent with our experience
in the United States. Two things in particular: one is that you said, you know, once people,
you know, have Hubble telescopes and microscopes, the burning bush is not as interesting. And
the other thing you said is that, you know, religion kind of fits into, you know, innate
human nature for, you know, being told what to do or not having as much freedom. Well,
in the United States, we have the most advanced, wealthy, most powerful nation in probably
the history of the world, and you have probably the most freedom-loving, you know, almost
inventive–not inventing but really espousing the philosophy of freedom and individuality
and trying to, you know, propagate that throughout the world. Yet, you also have the most religious
nation. Well, it’s true. I mean, you can argue with the methods but I mean, there’s no question
that like we are trying to promote democracy. And yet you have, yeah, the most religious
nation. You have like people going to church is probably an all-time high. Religious people
affect who are leaders are, you know, to a great degree. So how do you explain like that
contradiction?>>HITCHENS: Well, I don’t think it’s
a contradiction because religious, the section of the constitution means you can have religious
pluralism. Now for example where I come from, originally, you can tell I was born in England.
The head of the church is the head of the state and the head of the armed forces. It’s
an official church and you have to pay for it and whether you want to or not. And on
the moment that her majesty, the Queen, expires, the head of the Church of England will become
a bat-eared half-Muslim with no taste in, for women as far as I can see, the lugubrious
Prince Charles, who goes to classes on Islam and talks to plants and is a loon. That’s
what you get for founding a church on the family values of Henry VIII. In the United
States, you can’t have any of that. That would be unconstitutional. You can belong to any
church you want, the government has nothing to do with that. And people I think take a
Toquevillian view, if you like, of the church. They go, many of them, to church for social
reasons. Some of them for ethnic ones, some of them for charitable, some of them for community
reasons as you might say. If you ask someone now–I’ve been doing this a lot recently.
I have debated at every stop of my book tour. Okay, so said you are a Baptist minister,
yes. Well, do you believe in John Calvin’s teaching on predestination and hell fire?
Why do you want to know? Well, because you said you were a Baptist. Yeah, but I mean
I’m a Southern Baptist, you know that kind. Well, come one. They don’t love the question.
They–or ask the Catholics if they really believe what their church teaches or what
the Pope tells them. Of course they don’t for the most part. The fastest growing group
of people in the country has been measured as being those of who have no belief or who
are atheists. By far the fastest growing, it’s doubled in the last ten years. People
are evidently lying to the opinion polls, that there are not enough churches in the
country; there are plenty of them. They’re not enough to take all the people who say
that they go to them, just couldn’t be done, couldn’t fit them in. I don’t think that
people who have doubts about religion are going to tell them to opinion pollsters who
call them up at dinner time. They will say, yes, I am a Methodist or whatever it is, they’re
not going say I sometimes wonder if John Wesley was really the man. Not when the multiple
choice boxes are being gone through. So, but unfortunately, I mean, there are people who
think that that’s the way to go politically. The president for example thinks that to say
someone is person of faith is axiomatically to confer a compliment on them. And if you
remember, he did it to Vladimir Putin, KGB goon and hood, and increasingly evidently
a very dangerous man to have in charge in Russia. President meets and says right away,
“Right away, well, I could tell by looking into his eyes and seeing he was wearing his
grandmother’s crucifix, that he was just the chap for me.” Now, in a strong field,
I think that’s the stupidest thing the president has yet said. And he must, I think, occasionally
regret it. And I got, tried to get a research to this one to find out just, I just need
to know something, has Vladimir Putin ever worn his grandmother’s crucifix since? Had
he ever been seen wearing it before? Or did he just think this should be enough for the
president of the United States? Because if so, it would show that religion was not just
metaphysically incorrect, but as I have I believe said, a danger and a poison to all
of us. If our republic can be—and its president can be pushed over, like that, like someone
offering garlic to a vampire, then we really are in trouble.
>>Just a follow-up, though, it just sounds like you would have almost no religion in
the U.S. if you—if it’s true that you were saying, that once you became an advanced
scientific society, you know, you’d lose interest in religion which is not the case.
>>HITCHENS: All right. I’d say a bit more, I mean, take the case of the so-called “intelligent
design school” they want at least equal time, they used to want to ban evolution,
now they want equal time in schools. So, they brought with their Discovery Institute friends
from Washington, moves on school boards and courts in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and the
most conservative County of Pennsylvania around the town of Dover. And they have been humiliated
in each case. And this is in Kansas, in Texas, in Oklahoma and in the most reactionary part
of Pennsylvania. Thrown off the school board by the electorate and thrown out of court
as flat out unconstitutional by the judges, in all cases, Reagan Republican appointees.
And I don’t know what they’re going to do next, these rednecks, I don’t know what
they’re going to do. But, I know why it doesn’t work, and why it’s not going to
work, because there may be many parents in Kansas who say, “Well, I personally think
that God made the rocks and so on and only made them 6,000 years ago.” But they don’t
want their children taught that in school. They don’t want to come from a state where
they get laughed at when they say where they’re from. Oh you’re from Kansas, that’s the
place where… they don’t like that. It’s the same, it was the same with the confederate
flag issue, quite apart from the racism. A lot of people who didn’t want to come from
a state that had a confederate battle flag on its [INDISTINCT]. Among other things people
won’t have their conventions in your state and you’ll suffer for that too. You’ll
get laughed at when you travel, they don’t want this. And nor should they have to put
up with it because of a handful of crackpots. So, no, I don’t say there aren’t a lot
of devout people in this country and I don’t say that science just negates religion. But
I say that the influence of religion as opposed to scientific rationalism is hugely overestimated,
yeah. Shouldn’t—shouldn’t impress people to the point where they feel it must – can’t
be opposed.>>Thank you for coming. I think you already
answered one of my questions regarding organizing a larger effort. So separate from that I want
to get just some comments and thoughts based upon idea of if there is going to be an independent
movement whether at the Atheist or Anti-theist movement whether you’re part of it or not,
if you have any suggestions for the average person not may not have say a publishing company
or a production company, but does have the Internet, you know, does have their own thoughts…
>>HITCHENS: Right.>>And keyboard in front of them, what they
can do to either give resources to other people or to actually express their thoughts in ways
that you find to actually be, you know, exceptional.>>HITCHENS: Yes.
>>Furter some sort of movement, if there may be one.
>. HITCHEN: Yeah, my friend, Rich Dawkins actually at the end of his book, The God Delusion,
does have a list which you can look up, and his is an excellent book, I should say, of
websites where so to say, help is available. Well, there’s one for example, there is
a very important one of called, “Leaving Islam,” is about people want to get out
and are afraid or are being intimidated, ways of actually doing it and finding contact with
people who feel the same way. Very serious because there are quite a lot of our fellow
citizens now who don’t feel that they do have religious freedom because they are imprisoned
in a religion that can kill them for even considering changing their minds about it,
this is no small matter. But I tell you what I would do, I would become a subscriber to
a magazine called Free Inquiry which is published out of Amherst, New York, it’s every month
I think, a very, very good rationalist and skeptical magazine which has itself a lot
of local activities that you can look up. And then, there’s another magazine called
Skeptical Inquiry, published from nearer here, maybe more appeal to people of a scientific
or technical bent which does things likes they expose frauds that are on TV claiming
to be able to put you in touch with your relatives, or divine water or all these kinds of nutbags
that are often featured on primetime shows. And puts you also in touch with the work the
great magicians, Penn and Teller and James Randy, who again show that miracles are easy.
And they can also show the fraudulence of anyone who tries to exploit them, a world
of wonder awaits you. And these magazines will also show you and point out to the areas
where resistance is needed, say to the continued attempt to teach nonsense in American schools,
“Yes, children that concludes the biology period, and now get ready for your creation
studies hour and after the astronomy class we will have the astrology class for equal
time, and then the chemistry alchemy period.” It’s enough to make a cat laugh, isn’t
it? There are people think this is what should be done to stultify American children. So,
you can meet up with other people could think that that’s a bad idea.
>>Yeah, two things, an observation and a concern, my first observation is that I think
you share something in common with Jesus in that both of you have seems to be attacking
aspects of religion, but often in his case, he attacked specific religious leaders whereas
you attack religion itself. And, I was…>>HITCHENS: No, our resemblances are often
pointed out.>>I’m sad to hear, I thought for sure I’d
be the first. And secondly, the bit of concern, if we start going more and more toward Atheism,
you mentioned some of the horrible things that happened in the name of religion, but
I look at one of the greatest genocides or at least mass murders ever, was by the Soviet
Union under Lenin and Stalin when in the name of among another things Atheism, they killed
an enormously large number of their own people. And what do you think would prevent that from
happening if indeed you were successful?>>HITCHENS: I have a chapter on this in my
book because it is a very frequently asked question, I think it’s also a very serious
one, I have to condense the chapter if I may, but here’s the situation. Until 1917, the
year of the Russian Revolution, millions of Russians, millions and millions of them had
for hundreds and hundreds of years been told that the head of the state, the Czar, was
also the head of the church and was a little more than human, he was the little father
of the people. He wasn’t quite divine. He was more like a saint than human. And he owned
everything in the country and everything was due to him. That’s how a gigantic layer
Russian society was inculcated with servile, fatalistic ideas. If you are Josef Stalin,
you shouldn’t be in the dictatorship business in the first place if you can’t realize
this is a huge opportunity for you, you’ve inherited a population that’s servile and
credulous and superstitious. Well, what does Stalin do? He sets up an inquisition. He has
heresy hunts, trials of heretics, the Moscow trials. He proclaims miracles, Lysenko’s
agriculture that was supposed to produce three harvests a year or whatever it was, the pseudo-biology
that would feed everyone in a week. He says all thanks are due at all times to the leader
and you must praise him at all times for his goodness and kindness. And incidentally, he
always kept the Russian Orthodox Church on his side, it split. It split the church and
some of them moved to New York and set up a rival. But the Russian Orthodox Church remained
part of the regime, he was not so stupid as not to know he had to do that, just as Hitler
and Mussolini made an even more aggressive deal with the Roman Catholic Church and with
some of the Protestants. And remember the other great axis of evil person of that time,
the Emperor of Japan, was not just a religious person but actually a god. So Fascism, Communism
and Stalinism and Nazism are nothing like as secular as some people think, and much
more religious than most people know. But here’s what a fair test would be: find a society
that’s adopted the teachings of Spinoza, Voltaire, Galileo, Einstein, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson
and gone down the pits as result of doing that into famine and war and dictatorship
and torture and repression. That would be a fair test. That’s the test I’d like to–that’s
the experiment I’d like to run. I don’t think that’s going to end up with a gulag.
>>Hi. Thank you for coming.>>HITCHENS: Thank you for having me.
>>More ladies asking questions would be awesome and please, I implore you to be really hilarious
so we can prove Mr. Hitchens is wrong about why women cannot be funny.
>>HITCHENS: I was wondering what you would–what you’ve done with your chicks here I must say.
>>We are a technology company. So, I’m not religious but just to play a little devil’s
advocate, what do you say to studies that show that people who consistently go to church,
who pray, who believe in God have, like, lower blood pressure and live longer lives, et cetera?
>>HITCHENS: Well, I’d say it wouldn’t–wouldn’t prove much. I mean, the–if it hard to prove–I’m
not sure I would be able to trust the methodology but suppose it was true, the same could be
said of being a Moonie for example. I mean, it’s said–it is said that Louis Farrakhan’s
racist crackpot Nation of Islam and its sectarian gang gets young men of drugs, for all I know
it does, it may but that doesn’t recommend it to me. Nor does it prove a thing about
its theology, if you see what I mean. Whereas I can absolutely tell you that of the suicide
bombing population 100% are faith based. And I don’t think that that in itself disproves
faith but I think it should make you skeptical of that kind of random sampling.
>>Sure. There seemed to be…>>HITCHENS: Of the genital mutilation community
the same can be said.>>I’ve a lot of progressive religious friends
who–I used to be pretty condescending towards religion but I feel like I’ve learned a lot
from them and learned about their religious practice and what it means to them and as
you stated earlier a lot of religious people don’t really believe all the tenets of what
their faith says anyway. So, I feel like those friends of mine are looking for community
and looking for a feeling of oneness with other people and with the universe and ultimately
on a scientific level that bears out anyway because on like a quantum level everything
is one and is the same. So, I feel like churches at least in this country provide the sense
of community that I don’t think exists any other way in our culture. I don’t feel like
I had that growing up and I feel like my friends that went to churchm they can go back to their
church now and there are all of these adults that aside from their parents that were there
to nurture them as they were growing up and then ask how they’re doing and I never had
that. So, I’m jealous of that in a sense.>>HITCHENS: It takes a lot to make me cry
but you…See me afterwards, I mean, the way it just–look actually it’s what I said
about if there’s any who read, who read de Toqueville, in Democracy in America should–that’s
what he said about–about communitarianism and religion. It’s very–it’s the reason why
America is so religious but it’s a different form of religion. Ask yourself a related question,
it’s amazing to me how many Americans change religion when they get married. You hear it
all the time, you’ve heard it. I used to be Seventh Day Adventist but my wife was Congregationalist,
now I go to the Congregationalists. It doesn’t matter the Seventh Day Adventist used to say,
if you don’t stay with us you’re going straight to hell. Change very easily. Go to another
church instead. Wouldn’t consider perhaps not going to one but it shows the–the depth
of the strength of religious allegiance. I also think that, well, it’s notorious about,
say, Polish Catholics in Chicago or Greek Orthodox or many Jews, the church has been
a means of transmitting and preserving an ethnic tradition as well. The solidarity in
the face of often quiet bleak kinds of life, and now there’s even a phenomenon known as
Churchianity. It’s expressed by the megachurches, the people who live half transient lives don’t
have very stable employment or residence who are often moving around the country. On a
Sunday they want to know where they can go take the old jalopy and be among friends,
and these characters are waiting for them believe you me to remove what few savings
they do have left from them. Because that’s another indissoluble fact about American religion
just as community and blood pressure may be involved. It has to be mentioned in the same
breath as open fraud to an absolutely astonishing extent. I mean, the shake down community,
the genital mutilation community, the suicide bombing community, the child abuse I would
prefer to say child rape communities, all these are communities of faith, believe you
me.>>Oh, it’s my turn?
>>HITCHENS: What’s up?>>Try to diverge a little from the immediate
subjects. You expressed your regrets for this perverse impulse in the human spirit which
seems to desire to be dominated, to prostrate itself before the mysterious altar of power.
It occurs to me that the current government of this nation has in a calculated fashion,
exploited this perverse desire and exploited the language which seems to inspire it or
appeal to it. Now, I’m strongly opposed to a particular policy of this government which
is the indefinite detention of so-called terrorist suspects in Cuba and in particular I dislike
the way the government tries to justify this policy by using these very discourses of power
and secrecy which come of a particular religious stamp. So I would like to ask and–not to
be impertinent how you can square what you’ve said today with other comments you’ve made
apparently in support of this very policy.>>HITCHENS: There’s no danger of you being
impertinent so don’t worry about that. I’ve just returned from Guantanamo, when I say
just I was there last month. It took me a long time to get down and haven’t yet written
anything about it so you won’t know my views as I’m not sure that I know them in full myself,
but about your question, I know what my views are about indefinite detention in principle.
I didn’t see or must have missed any allusion that all made to religion, in the decision
to declare them enemy combatants. You’re suggesting there was a religious justification for the
detention policy?>>Not a religious justification per se but
in my opinion the Bush administration in its public deliveries often uses a language of
power very much akin to that used by religious tyrants and demagogues down the centuries
and this language comes up particularly strongly when justifying controversial actions such
as Guantanamo Bay.>>HITCHENS: Well, again I think we have a
disagreement, I mean the language they seem to use to me is the language of the secular
language of emergency powers and special circumstances requiring extraordinary measures and that’s
a very old argument especially in the United States, it goes back to President Lincoln’s
attempt to suspend habeas corpus in the Civil War. It reminds me of that and not of any
argument about or with theocracy.>>Emergency powers and extraordinary rendition
and other times like this to me rather smack of secrecy jargon at the same time used by
preachers.>>HITCHENS: Or by secular despots. I just
don’t think you’re quite carrying your point about the theological. If by all means
if you want to discuss the question of civil liberties, let’s do so, but it’s a departure
from the rubric. The Bush administration is not conducting a holy war in this respect.
It is confronting a holy war, however. One thing you can’t miss about the inhabitants
of Guantanamo is how faith based they are, and that’s part of the reason why we are
presented with this problem. The difference seems to me to be the following, if you treat
them as criminals, as some argue, then you can’t say really that you are fighting a
war, then it’s only a law and order question. If you say you’re fighting a war, then in
what sense are these not enemy soldiers? If they are enemy soldiers, how can you try them
as criminals? Why are you holding people as criminals and building a military tribunal,
I visited the room where they’re going to have them tried, where they will be able to
say, “Well, thanks for having me here and admitting that I am a soldier, when the whole
point is that the Geneva Convention says that they’re not. So that’s bad enough to begin
with and it’s a territory no government has yet had to step onto. But in addition,
we’re apparently not allowed to do any of those things, nor are we allowed extraordinary
rendition nor can we have return them to their countries of origin in case they get maltreated
there by their own governments. Well, this leaves the—apparently only two alternatives.
One is not to take any prisoners. And the other is to let everybody go and say we’ve
got no right to hold you. And neither of these seems to be very attractive. This is as far
as I’ve got now with my reasoning.>>But do you not dislike the way that’s
all of these actions might not be unconstitutional. They’re not justified in constitutional
terms but in language such as extraordinary rendition, emergency powers.
>>HITCHENS: Yeah, I do dislike that very much, yes. I mean, no one’s ever been able
to point out to me that Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus helped to defeat the confederacy
for example. And I certainly don’t think that the president has the right under the
constitution to suspend habeas corpus. Only the Congress can do that. It doesn’t mean
it can’t be suspended. The Congress has to do it, the president cannot. I’m rather
a stickler for that kind of thing. Call me old fashioned if you will.
>>Well, I feel I’ve taken up a little too much time now.
>>HITCHENS: A very welcome question, believe me.
>>I would posit that the Bush administration has restrained itself or needs to be restrained
from using genuine religious language in the way it’s approached that so called war and
terror and I believe the word crusade was used earlier in the campaign by President
Bush, it’s not been used since. And we remember that the original name of the campaign was
infinite justice. Another rejected piece of unfortunate language, obviously picked out
by some careful PR person.>>HITCHENS: [INDISTINCT]
>>Hi. Thank you very much for coming. I was just having a question about something that
many people have probably find to be a less serious issue but I’m curious about your thoughts
on art, music and creativity and how those fit in with your other ideas, those were three
things that formed communities that maybe we argued on faith, you know. The greatest
composers throughout history always dedicating their work to God and things of that nature
and I’m just curious how you view these things and beauty of these things to be similar to
the beauty that you suggested you can find in nature or how you think that they might
be more suited, more fitting in with religion. I’m just curious if you think that any would
be devalued in this new system or any—with your ideas.
>>HITCHENS: Yeah, we don’t know, of the extraordinary buildings, the great Gothic
Cathedrals for example or the, even the Great Mosques of Andalusia. We don’t know if the
architects who built them that they were themselves convinced that it was for the greater glory
of God. We just know that at the time you couldn’t get a job as an architect if you
didn’t affirm that. And certainly we know what would have happened to you if you said,
“What God?” That would not just be the end of your career as an architect, so we
don’t know that about… We don’t know the same about, even the devotional painters,
we don’t know if they were believers, or the composers. Of the devotional poets, and
I’m on stronger ground here as a literary critic, I know a bit more about it. People
like John Donne or George Herbert, it would be very, very hard to fake writing that if
you weren’t a believer. It would be extremely hard, where would you get your inspiration
from? And my feeling is that it’s real devotional poetry and I personally couldn’t be without
it. We’d be much poorer. To stay with the literature if you don’t mind. The King James
version of the bible, the King James translation, referred to in the New York Times recently
as the St. James translation, is itself a great work of literature and one couldn’t
be without it, if you don’t understand the beauty of that liturgy, there’s a lot of
Shakespeare and of Milton and Blake you wouldn’t get, you wouldn’t know what was going on.
So it’s part of literacy to know it. I once wrote a book about the Parthenon, very important
building for western civilization, great deal to be learned from it and from, by its beauty
and by its symmetry and by its extraordinary architecture and sculpture. But I no longer
care about the culture of Pallas Athena and I don’t care about the mystical ceremonies,
some of them involving animal sacrifice and possibly human, that were conducted on the
road from Eleusis. And I don’t have to care about Athenian imperialism and what it did
to the Greek colonies in the rest of the Mediterranean. I can just appreciate the building and some—and
know about the philosophical context and the plays of Sophocles and all the other things
that were going on at the same time without any reference to their gods. So I propose
that what culture largely means to us now is how to deal with civilizational art and
great creativity in a post-supernatural era. In other words, how to keep all of that that’s
of value without having to care about the culture of Pallas Athena for example or to
be forced to bear in mind that say, St. Peter’s in Rome, actually not I think that impressive
a building, was built by special set of indulgences, I mean that’s how the money for it was raised.
We can consider that independently now. We can value this building without knowing that.
Though I always find it’s somewhat hard to forget.
>>Right. Okay. I was just curious, I mean I wanted to seek more towards how all these
things in art and music and creativity are often relayed between individuals as being
spiritual or something along that nature whether or not the actual topic.
>>HITCHENS: I wanted to say a bit more of this when I was speaking first. I think that
the human need for the transcendent, for the spiritual is undeniable but that’s not the
supernatural. It’s very important to understand. The feeling that people get out of landscape
and music, or landscape and music in combination. The feeling of war and love at the same time
has had extraordinary consequences for many people, or one or other on their own. These
are the things we can’t do without but there’s no reason to attribute them to the supernatural.
You’re not glimpsing anything but nature from that.
>>Thank you. Thank you.>>Hi. So it turns out if you follow the money
trail back for a lot of these things, this whole creationism, teaching creationism idea,
you’ll eventually find political organizations that are trying to energize a base, right,
these bases…>>HITCHENS: Yes.
>>What they’d like to do is to get these people to feel like they’re being attacked.
And in lot of the discussions we have in your presentation, there’s a fine line between
attacking people versus attacking ideas, right? What do you do to kind of ensure that you’re
not going after people and not making people feel like you’re telling them that they’re
idiots for example? All right. How do you make that separation?
>>HITCHENS: Well, I think my answer’s been anticipated perhaps.
>>All right.>>HITCHENS: If someone tells me that I’ve
hurt their feelings I’m still waiting to hear what your point is.
>>Right.>>HITCHENS: I’m very depressed that in this
country you can be told that’s offensive as if those two words constitute an argument
or comment, not to me they don’t, and I’m not running for anything. So, I didn’t have
to pretend to like people when I don’t.>>Right. Thanks.
>>Hello. Oh, thank you so much for speaking. I think we’re going to have a book signing
right outside over here. So, if everyone got their copy of the book, thank you very much
for coming.>>HITCHENS: How very nice of you.